Although I've been a regular listener to this program since it's inception 25 or 30 years ago, originally as Sunday Morning, I haven't listened lately.
But this Sunday I made an exception because I was interested to hear what the commentators might say about our Canadian involvement in Afghanistan.
I was also very interested to know what a group of potentially thoughtful Canadians, i.e. ones who had to make an effort to get down or into Tabaret Hall, might ask or say about us being there.
I began listening with trepidation, expecting first to be frustrated by the commentators who could spout the usual canned and politically packaged tripe handed to Canadian citizens by our current government and the military.
I was surprised, though. (The podcast of the program maybe be up at the CBC in a couple of days. The CBC never seems to put up the entire show. But here is where all CBC podcasts can be accessed in case you maybe interested just scroll for Sunday Edition.)
Other than the Afghanistan Ambassador to Canada, who with, I think, rare exceptions maintained the Karzai's public view of the world from Afghanistan, the other commentators were not pre-packaged cheerleaders.
The other commentators seemed like real observers and analysts. I could say that they seemed like serious people but using the adjective "serious" to modify the description of a human is now, it seems, de rigueur to actually dismissing them as serious, that is thoughtful, reflective ... .
I think the best way for me to phrase what I heard would be to say the commentators seemed as puzzled as most Canadians are about:
why we are there,
what we are doing,
what the PLAN maybe, and
why can't those in charge of our involvement tell us exactly what is happening.
The audience's response to the discussion, in the first half of the program, as well as their questions of the commentators were also interesting - meaning: thoughtful, probing, curious, reasonably knowledgeable, and non-partisan (so refreshing).
To me the forum seemed like a success because it was just that an exchange of both some information and opinion which was then probed and questioned. There were no general conclusions at the end other than, I think, that at least those who showed up at Tabaret Hall are sick of being handed the pre-packed tripe doled out by the federal government and military.
I know I'm fed up with the completely partisan nature down which our government seems to be directing Canadian concerns and debate about us being in Afghanistan. It is absolutely non-productive and just makes me angry.
There was also little hand wringing about our deaths in the place which allowed the forum to proceed in an emotionally uncharged manner. The guy from Esprit de Corps magazine, Scott Taylor, did however at some point say that Canada had a higher than average death rate than other countries involved. No one asked about his methodology for determining this which was good because it allowed the discussion to stay on track. [My quick calculations using deaths as a % of troops on the ground in Afghanistan ranks the US 1st, Canada 2nd and Spain 3rd. There are, of course other ways of calculating the death rates all so far are very very low relative to other declared wars in which we've been.]